Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Spiders And Shongololos

When I was in the north last year in November, the first rains of the season fell and these shiny velvet Christmas 'Spiders' appeared.

I don't know where the name comes from - maybe it's because they look like little red-suited Santas ... I'm not sure that they're true spiders either, I only count six legs and two 'feelers'.

There were also thousands of Millipedes, commonly known as the 'Shongololo' - (try say that out loud, it's not so hard ... shon-go-lo-lo).

The common variety of Shongololo, shown in the pic below with a Christmas Spider, is about 7cm long:

I also saw the rarer Giant African Millipede - Archispirostreptus gigas - and managed to get a pic with it's 'normal' cousin for a size comparison:

This specimen was probably about 25cm long:

I don't know whether either Christmas Spiders or Shongololos are eaten by predators but, while the Christmas Spiders look delicious in their shiny velvet suits, the Shongololos look positively unappetizing ... I'm not about to try and find out either ... :)

Related Posts:
Some Bugs In My World
More Things That Bug Me


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Blown Away On Christmas Day

Coro y Orq. Via Magna. Beethoven. Misa en Do M. Gloria

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Camping On The Orange River

This Border Collie belongs to the owner of the campsite. He spends a large amount of time frolicking in the river, chasing after waterbirds and waiting for humans to come play with him.

A couple sets off on a three-day journey down the river, accompanied by a guide.

Pics from camping and canoing trip on the Orange River.

Related posts:
Namibia's Stunning Orange River Road
Orange River In Flood


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Banded Mongoose - Mungos mungo

Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) occur mainly in the dry savannah and woodlands of northern Namibia and are commonly seen in the Etosha National Park.

They are diurnal, sociable animals, living in packs, or 'mobs', of 30 to 50 individuals.

They feed mainly on insects but will take other invertebrates, mice and wild fruits.

The characteristic feature of this species is the series of up to 15 transverse black bands from the mid-back to the base of the tail, which gives rise to their name.

Individuals in the pack maintain contact by twittering and strident chittering of members warning the pack to slip off quietly when there is danger.

I photographed some at Namutoni Rest Camp in Etosha where they have become 'tame' and unafraid of humans.

This one appeared to be trying to look 'cute', hoping that tourists would throw food at it.

This year, for the first time, I've had a mob of about 30 visiting my house.

At first I thought it was nice to have them around but soon changed my mind after they started chasing chickens off their nests and eating their eggs.

I photographed the one above through my window, eating an egg - they finished off a clutch of 12 eggs in a matter of minutes.

They disappeared for a few days after I took a couple of shots at them with a catapult but I'm sure they'll be back now that they know there are eggs to be found here.

I've also noticed that they've dug holes under the rocks in my rock stockpile and that most of the scorpions that were living there have disappeared.

Amy Schoeman - Notes on Nature
Reay Smithers - Land Mammals Of Southern Africa


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tsumeb Copper Festival

For the last four years, the town of Tsumeb in northern Namibia has held a three-day 'Copper Festival'.

Tsumeb owes it's existence to a very rich ore body which was mined for almost 100 years.

Even though the mine itself has closed, the custom copper Smelter still exists, processing ore from other mines in Africa and abroad, a lifeline contributing to the continuous existence of the town.

I took a morning off building and drove into town to take a few pics:

The event is held in the United Nations park in the center of town - an opportunity for local businesses, organizations and vendors to display and sell their wares.

Various activities are organized during the three-day event to attract people, including music shows and cultural dancing. Stalls selling food and beer become popular meeting places.

Children from one of the local schools take part in a parade during the opening ceremony.

Frances Galton was an English explorer who first noted the existence of the Tsumeb Ore Body in 1851.

A vendor selling toys and other odds 'n ends - loved the pink tent.

Local handicrafts on display.

A woman having her 'hand points diagnosed' - I've got no idea what this is about.

One of the many colorful stalls.

Scary masks for sale - I wouldn't like to bump into one of these on a dark night.

Halloween was never an event in Namibia but, I've noticed that in recent years radio and news media here have been promoting it.

Spider Man blow-up dolls ... *ahem*

This guy asked me to take a family pic - I just love the woman's face, so open ... uncomplicated.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Spirit - Something The Cat Dragged In

This is Mutt, being groomed by Stoffel.

Mutt was born here and the only one of a litter of three Toms who wasn't afraid of Stoffel - he became her 'Toy Boy Cat' - she would spend hours grooming him and, as you can see, even enthusiastically chewed all his whiskers off, causing him to look extra dumb.

After I banished him from the house for messing, Mutt's whiskers grew back and he started disappearing into the bush, sometimes for up to two weeks, often returning with wounds and new scars from fighting.

In early October Mutt disappeared for two days and, one morning, returned home with a scrawny little kitten in tow - I took this pic a few seconds after they arrived.

The kitten looked to be about six weeks old and, apart from being very thin, seemed in good health. It was fawning on Mutt and, much to his annoyance, trying to suckle on him.

I don't know if the kitten's mother was a feral cat or not but, I think that he had accidentally become separated from the litter and had latched onto Mutt during his wanderings.

I knew intuitively that a new resident had arrived.

I named him "Spirit".

He was wary of me at first but, he's sharp - it only took him two days to figure out who the 'Provider of Food and Backscratches' is and so we became friends.

Spirit is very curious, lively and loves to play - he's already ruined a few plants, especially ferns.

Using his kitten-cuteness and ignorance of cat etiquette he monopolizes the food bowls and soon put on some weight.

It surprises me that even though Mutt is the archetypal tough Tomcat, when Spirit's playfulness irritates him to the point of craziness, Mutt flees and takes refuge in the bush instead of slapping or dominating the kitten.

Of course, Spirit has captured my heart. He has a lovely character, friendly towards humans but with a nice balance of self-sufficient bush-cat wildness.

Here he is in practice hunting mode - I've had to discourage him a few times from molesting small chickens.

Spirit's close encounter with Stoffel.

On this day, a massive Cape Cobra was eating one of my chicken's eggs and while I was taking photos, Spirit was frolicking around my feet, unaware of the danger.

Afraid that he'd bumble into the snake, I grabbed him and threw him into the house. When I came back inside, Stoffel was trying to befriend and groom him.

I don't want him to become a house cat so his contact with Stoffel will be limited.

I'll get back home sometime in January and by then Spirit will be a young adult cat - I hope his character will still be the same. I'll have to make a decision on whether or not to have him spayed.

If I don't have him castrated, Mutt will start fighting with him and one of them will eventually be forced to move away. (Mutt chased both his brothers off a few years ago).

On the other hand, I don't 'own' Spirit, I didn't choose him from a pet shop or shelter, he chose me. Castrating him will alter his nature, is it for me to interfere?

To snip or not to snip? What do you think?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'allo 'allo

Image credit: Unknown

Hello Friends,

I'm back in cyberspace again - actually, I've been online for a few days but have been so mesmerized by the Wikileaks 'Cablegate' drama I've neglected to do anything else, like compose blog posts ...

The weather in the North during October and most of November was unbearable - even my emergency lighting system wilted in the heat.

I'm not sure whether it's age taking it's toll or the result of global warming but this year the temperatures seemed to affect me more than ever before.

The intense heat and drab, dry environment was depressing at times, the whole world seem cruel and hostile to the existence of life.

It was extremely difficult motivating myself to do any building and I didn't complete half of the work I could have.

I did manage to complete the last section of the East wall.

It was difficult because of the height - the scaffolding in the pic above is seven feet high but not even that was high enough to finish the last few rocks ... as you can see I had to work whilst standing balanced on an upturned plastic crate perched on the unsteady scaffold plank.

I'm glad that the high rock-work is completed - I'm getting too old for monkeying about like this and am not as sure-footed as I used to be.

For the first time since starting building ten years ago, I dropped a big rock - I momentarily lost concentration and pulled out a wedge holding the rock and it fell to the ground, narrowly missing my feet on the scaffold and the window - luckily there were no animals below but I was so rattled by this incident that I had to sit down for a few minutes in order to regain my composure.

As I said, it was stinking hot all the time I was home. On some days clouds would appear and at times I could smell rain in the distance but nothing fell near me.

Amazingly, as I was grouting the last rock in the wall, it started raining - the hole was fixed and for the next few days it pelted down, making the world feel a friendly place again ...

I'm back in the desert now where one would expect searing temperatures but that's not the case ... being 80ks from the coast the air is quite cool and I have to wear a jacket in the evenings - I'm not complaining though ...


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Up In Smoke ...

Jason Hernandez - The Smokeman

Hey Friends,

Tomorrow I return to my home in the North again. I can't believe that two months have passed so quickly - Isn't it strange how slowly time dragged when we were young and how the years just flash past when we get older?

I hope to get some building done. Summer is here and the next two months are Namibia's hottest - I'll have to plan my days so that I work in the shade as much as possible, hopefully we'll get some early rains.

As most of you know, it's very difficult to blog at home because of my lousy internet connection there, so this blog will probably be static for the next two months.

I haven't prepared any drafts for automatic posting because to me the most satisfying part of blogging is in interacting with you, which I can't do on the smallholding. Automatic Posts just seem so hollow and impersonal.

I must confess that I'm suffering from an information overload right now and am actually looking forward to a world without TV or broadband internet access ... 'got to get ourselves back to the Garden'

My e-mail addy is on my profile page so if you've got news, (like you're planning a visit to Nam), or even just to say 'Hi', please do write - I check mail from time-to-time.

Thanks to you all for your visits, comments and interaction over the last two months, I've really enjoyed it.

I wish you health and good cheer - see you in December.


ps ... I couldn't resist sneaking this one in - For my recent Giraffe post I thought that I didn't have a pic to show how Giraffe splay their front legs to drink but I found some among my hundreds of unedited images:


Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Few Bucks ...

A few of the Buck to be seen in Namibia's Etosha National Park:

Kudu - Tragelaphus strepsiceros
Widespread throughout Namibia.

Damara Dik-Dik - Modoqua kirkii
A tiny buck, with a shoulder height of about 40 cm.

Black-faced Impala - Aepyceros melampus
Restricted to an isolated population in northeastern Namibia.

Gemsbok - Oryx gazella
Widespread throughout Namibia, even in the desert.

Springbok - Antidorcas marsipialus
Early travelers relate that they saw herds of hundreds of thousands of these buck which took hours to pass.

Steenbok - Raphicerus campestris
Solitary animals ... I've not seen many of them but they are widespread throughout the subregion.

Sorry, I just couldn't resist posting this lucky shot of a young Kudu jumping again.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Far-out Farm Sign

I just love this sign at the entrance to a farm on the gravel road between Aus and Helmeringhausen in Southern Namibia, a road I travel often.

The area here is very desolate but ideal for sheep farming. The short tree in the images is a Quiver Tree - Aloe dichotoma or, 'Kokerboom' in Afrikaans.